City will put deer cull on ballot

City council votes in favour of deer cull referendum for Nov. election ballot.

It looks like the City of Grand Forks will have a referendum question on the November election ballot; however, it won’t be about water meters. Instead it will be asking people whether they support a local deer cull.

A deer cull, which is a method of thinning the herd by trapping and killing deer, has been done in other nearby communities to mixed effect. Councillor Gary Smith, who chairs the local deer committee, said the referendum question is non-binding and will merely be used for information for council.

“We essentially want to ask a question of the people whether or not they are in support of a cull as a management option,” said Smith.

Smith said the deer committee has done a preliminary look into costs for a deer cull. They’ve also spoken to local First Nations bands to see if there is “an appetite for them to essentially harvest deer because they’re a people who use all the parts. But no hard costs have been settled on.”

Smith said that before getting to the cull stage, he hopes the deer tracking program the committee is looking at will help determine deer patterns. “It will hopefully help us determine if the animals are actually moving out of the Boundary area or sticking around here. That’ll help us nail down how many animals there are in town and what the resident population really is.”

The deer tracking program is a $10,000 program which has yet to receive final council approval.

“The Ministry (of Environment) has offered to give us assistance with an in-kind contribution of expertise and effort,” he said. “They have the expertise to be able to tranquilize the animals and tag them and set up the software so we can get the data points.”

Smith said they plan to track nine deer including one buck and two does in each of three different herds over two years.

“An important thing to figure out is buck movement,” he said. “Bucks are intrinsically shy. We want to know if they are coming in from the hills or are resident bucks; aqnd then to track the movement of the does and figure out specific times.”

The deer tracking program is expected to start in the fall.

Smith mentioned that East Kootenay cities such as Cranbrook, Kimberley and Invermere have run deer culls.

“There’s a number of communities around the province that have undertaken deer culls,” he said. “What our committee is going to look at is holding a conference with the chairs of those committees and share information and share experiences and hopefully come up with some realistic options for moving forward.”

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